The Indian innovation ecosystem has developed significantly over the last two decades fuelled by an enabling infrastructure provided by the Indian government as well as the private sector. As a result, India is today seen as a top destination for innovation, R&D and technology development. Given that India and Africa face similar development challenges, both sides can benefit through knowledge and technology sharing. India can play a critical role in building an analogous innovation led entrepreneurial culture in Africa. Through an institutional mechanism, Indian innovations can be transferred to African entrepreneurs and capacities can be built within these entrepreneurs to set-up businesses around the transferred innovations. The key outcomes would be economic growth and social development.
This was the thrust of the speakers at the India Africa Business Forum session on ‘Empowering Entrepreneurial Ecosystem in Africa by leveraging Indian Innovation, Science and Technology’.
Dr. Arabinda Mitra, Adviser, & Head, International Cooperation (Bilateral), Department of Science & Technology, Government of India, laid emphasis on ‘incremental innovation’ through a process of adaptation and adoption of “affordable, accessible and available’ innovation for the benefit of the African people. He said since the problems afflicting the people of India and Africa were similar, the Indian model that seeks a balance between discovery science and applied science and reaches out innovation to large sections of the population was best suited for Africa.
“India has great inspiring entrepreneurs like Tatas, Ambanis, and the Adanis. As a result, India is today seen as a top destination for innovation, R&D and technology development,” said Ghana’s Minister of Trade and Industry, Mr. Ekwow Spio-Garbrah. “Given that India and Africa face similar development challenges, both sides can benefit through knowledge and technology sharing,” he said, adding, “India can play a critical role in building an analogous innovation led entrepreneurial culture in Africa.”
Congo’s Minister for Small and Medium-Sized business Pancrace Boongo Nkoy, pointed out that through an institutional mechanism, Indian innovations could be transferred to African entrepreneurs and capacities can be built within these entrepreneurs to set-up business around the transferred innovations.
The Economic Advisor of the Namibian president, Dr. John Steytler, said that the ‘New’ Africa was ready to innovate and it now has systems and institutions in place that act as a fertile breeding ground for innovations to flourish.
However, the region is challenged by a skills deficit, particularly on the technical front.
The other Indian panelists, Dr. Anil Wali, Managing Director, Foundation for Innovation & Technology Transfer (FITT), IIT Delhi; Dr. A. Didar Singh, Secretary General, FICCI; Mr. Ulhas Kamath, Joint Managing Director, Jyothy Laboratories Ltd.; Mr. Sanjeev Kakkar, Chief Strategy Officer, Shyam Group of Companies and Ms. Geeta Dharmarajan, Founder, KATHA, gave a sense of how innovations were being fostered in the academia and the fillip being provided to grassroots level innovation in the private sector through the Millennium Alliance programme. The alliance is led by FICCI and partnered by USAID, TDB and other national and international bodies and helps commercialise frugal innovations for the benefit of society.